Friday, February 5, 2021

Poem (in memoriam Sean, d. 1981)


I have to imagine your grave today
since there's no visiting —
& there is fire, as well as distance
& decades between.

It might be dulled or overgrown,
inscription chipped off or greying —
every sibling's name & He is Risen
no longer legible, meaningful, like those

you & I would try to decipher as children
walking around churchyards, certain
such mute & sunken slabs had nothing
to do with us, just sweetly sad,

fearsome if stepped on. Your vases dry,
there won't be flowers now, though early
on I'd arrive to find someone else had
tended you, & spend the day wondering:

places you marked in other lives.
On the long road for years there was
a van that sold bouquets, opportune
as mushroom after death-rain,

servicing that end of things. Gone, gone.
After these forty years I scarcely know
what to say to you — my living on
has said everything for me.

                                  Tracy Ryan

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Friday, December 4, 2020

Remembering Jo

By Tracy


Jo with some of her children in the late 1960s...

My mother passed away last night at age 84, so we are all feeling very sad just now, & John has written the poem below in memory of her, because she loved birds (something we all share!) and early this morning a huge flock of galahs and a flock of '28s' (ring-necked parrots) came into Jam Tree Gully -- in fact, the largest flocks we have seen here. The poem below draws on that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Please Stand Up and Protect Julimar Forest Against the Rapacious Designs of Chalice Gold Mining Company

To understand what is going on in the name of 'clean energy' (a dubious expression that so often distracts from massive environmental damage and exploitation), see this piece of propaganda in the district newspaper.

And here is my poem of protest — feel free to use as suits in resisting this grab for forest and bush in the name of 'protecting climate' (while actually contributing to the damage of climate). This pegging and aim to establish this mine in the region is an appalling ecological travesty and a crime against the biosphere. Write, speak, peacefully resist in all possible ways. This mining project is a great wrong in the making.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Another Villanelle

The form continues to fascinate me (I have done a book of villanelles, Brimstone, that stretch back to the early 1990s though they are mainly of the last decade), as it has since first reading William Empson’s ‘Missing Dates’ in my late teens and memorising it. I have my problems with Empson these days for a variety of political reasons (mainly to do with his ‘monarchist’ tendencies, which seem so at odds with his anti-imperialist socialist attitudes), but as with Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, the rhythms of his ‘Missing Dates’ (much more than ‘Villanelle’) are residual for me. But even when a faint echo of Empson's ‘remains’ occurs in one of my villanelles (as in ‘space remains’ in the villanelle entry a couple of postings below), it can only exist as a critique of the/his figurative, of the abstraction, because of the real-time necessities of poetic protest and activism. Poetry always needs to ‘do work’ for me, even at its most subtextual and ‘implying’. The new villanelle included here is of an interstice of physical harm — to forest, and literally to myself. The pastoral as literary stylism devolves into acts of presence and responsibility, with rhythm always slightly disrupted (or ‘ruptured’) and repetitions making a declarative as well as ‘haunting’ iteration.

Villanelle of Pastoral Vertigo: growing block universe?

after seeing yet more forest turned to individual house plots down in The Hills

I am recovering from injuries

accrued while working now on the block (replant/de-‘block’) —

next year, for me, its labouring and saving trees.

But tree-deaths have outrun theories,

tree-deaths have outrun plantings and root-stock,

and I am recovering from injuries.

In a half-baked etiological spotlight that frees

developers to carve up and insert domestic

roots — contrarily, next year its labouring and saving trees.

It’s as if a house was and will be always,

but only last week it was forest full of its offspring — last week —

and here I indulge myself recovering from injuries.

This vertigo that comes on fast lays

a course through mixed-use zones that leak

into next year as we labour to save trees.

The urban pastoral visionaries reach deep into varieties

of rural demesnery — see bush and grow dizzy! — tall tree = haystack —

I am recovering from injuries,

next year its labouring to save trees.

    John Kinsella